[razzle dazzle]
Chic Dreams
Looking for style, ease, affordability? Just ask the Hostess with the Mostess
by Tiffany Fox

Back in Jennifer Sbranti’s college days, “party planning” meant little more than deciding between cans or bottles or figuring out how to get a borrowed foosball table through the back door.

But now the USD alumna — who graduated in 1999 — spends most waking hours poring over recipes for “signature cocktails,” deliberating contrasting color schemes and trolling the Web for the latest trends in stylish entertaining. Sbranti’s Web site, “Hostess with the Mostess” — which she runs with her husband, fellow USD graduate Sonny Sbranti — has carved a niche for itself in the world of event planning, with nearly 175,000 unique users and a blog that draws nearly 5,000 readers per day. Good Morning America invited Sbranti to appear in a segment about summer parties, and her site has been featured in publications such as InStyle Weddings, Real Simple and The Nest.

In addition to developing and maintaining the site, the San Diego-based couple runs Sbranti Design, advises celebrity clients such as The Bachelor’s Trista Sutter and The Biggest Loser’s Alison Sweeney on party planning, and hosts workshops on entertaining for corporate sponsor Chambord Liqueur, the most recent being a “Modern Parisian Soirée” in New York City for more than 200 guests. Sbranti said the idea for her business came about after graduation, when her friends started getting married and having children.

“I started hosting bridal and baby showers for them, but I wasn’t finding a lot of great entertaining ideas online,” she recalls. “What I thought was missing was content that catered toward a younger crowd, things that were stylish and super easy to do. I didn’t have the time or budget for ‘expert’ ideas that were difficult or expensive, but I didn’t want to just pick something up at Party City either. I got kind of frustrated by the experience and started coming up with my own themes and decorating tricks.”

HWTM is all about using inexpensive, widely available materials to turn tradition on its head. For a dazzling winter display, Sbranti used peacock feathers and a corresponding color scheme, and created a mommy-centric “Baby Bling” theme for a baby shower that featured rhinestone-bedecked pacifiers.

In the future, the Sbrantis hope to transform their site into a one-stop party planning tool, where users will be able to design personalized invitations, download a budget calculator and search other users’ party pics.

One would think that with their busy schedules, the last thing the Sbrantis would want to do in their down time is plan a party of their own. But the couple said they still get together every year with members of their graduating class. The decor and hors d’oeuvres might be a little more chic, but the friendships haven’t changed much, says Sbranti, “even if everyone does go home a little earlier.”

To learn more about Jennifer Sbranti’s projects, go to